n scale, some advice needed

garyr Feb 9, 2014

  1. garyr

    garyr New Member

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    Hi,
    I am thinking about a new layout.

    Some history:
    Several years ago I built a small layout using Atlas code 80 track. I had huge issues getting reliable running, experienced out of gauge points amongst a number of issues. I ended up throwing the layout away. I gave up!. Then I read about Unitrack and bought a pile. It ran beautifully, reliably, but the problem was I could never come up with a track plan that looked remotely realistic, the always ended up looking like a toy oval or variation thereof. I did make a start on building a layout despite this, but then I had to shift house, so I ripped up the Kato track and still have it.

    I want to build a layout, but doubt that I can get the look I want in Unitrack. I love natural mountain and country scenes, watching trains go, and a bit of operations as well. Prefer the country look rather than urban. I have lots of bits:
    6 LH no 6 switches
    6 rh no 6 switches
    1 lh and 1 rh no 4 switches
    1 double crossover
    v11 double track pack
    assorted bits and pieces.

    I have 2 options regarding fitting a layout in. 1 is 2 feet x 12 feet, in the other I can fit an 8x4.

    If I went the 8x4 I would like to do the Atlas Atlantic Longhaul Route, but in Peco code 55. I would probably end up using the Kato turnouts in a staging area, and just junk the rest of the kato stuff. The no 6 Kato's are just too big to fit in smaller layouts.

    In my other 2 foot x 12 foot option, perhaps the Kato stuff might be useable, but I can't come up with a track plan that seems OK. Can anyone assist with this?

    I guess I'm feeling lost in track plan limbo. Have enough cash for one more go at railroading :).....

    Any ideas for using what I already have?

    Bit of a vague post I know with some open ended questions, but really not sure about coming up with a non toy looking Kato layout in the space I have, and prepared to buy new Peco track if I have to....that Atlantic Longhaul route looks solo nice, likely to have any issues converting it to Peco code 55?

    cheers
    Gary
     
  2. Team DTO

    Team DTO TrainBoard Member

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    I'm just a beginner myself and currently working on my first "real" layout, and I understand your state of track plan limbo. You state you have 2 options, 2'X12' and 8'X4'. My theory is to go with the biggest possible layout for your available space. If you plan to use sectional track I would keep the track plan simple, this would make the rigid geometry of sectional less noticeable. With flex track you will have more flexibility, but I would still keep the track plan basic, spaghetti track is not very prototypical in the real world. Good luck with what ever you decide.
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Are your potential sizes dictated by room size? Or space allotted within a room?
     
  4. garyr

    garyr New Member

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    Space allotted within a room. I have a small workshop, one wall is 12 feet long, with a door opening at one end dictating the 2 foot depth at the other end of it, I could go to 3 foot depth for a couple of feet to put a loop. I can rearrange stuff in the shop so that I can fit an 8x 4 foot layout against a wall, and have it on wheels so I can pull it out to use it. The Longhaul Route could be left against the wall and not require pulling it out.

    cheers
    Gary
     
  5. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

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    I suppose my question is if you're interested in prototypical looking track, then why are you going with Peco 55? There are only two N-scale brands which look like North American prototype trackage (mostly) and they are Atlas 55 and Micro Engineering N-scale track.

    Unfortunately, Atlas 55 is still not in full supply and who knows when it'll become fully available. Micro Engineering code 55 is excellent looking track, but they only make a #6 turnout.

    For around 300 bucks, you can get a complete do-it-yourself set of jigs & fixtures from Fast Tracks to help you out and make it easy to build your own turnouts. After you get the hang of it, you can build them without the expensive jigs & fixtures for less than three bucks each. Go here: http://www.handlaidtrack.com/n-scale-a/170.htm

    Put aside your preconceptions about hand-laid turnouts. Here are the ways they're better than RTR turnouts: (1) They look much better (2) They are more reliable (3) Your trains run through them smoothly and without a wobble (4) You are not limited to whatever the manufacturers decide you should have (5) Your layout design is freed up because you can make a curved turnout or whatever angle turnout you need or want (6) You will never be held hostage by geopolitical events and changes of foreign government policies because you can make your own turnouts (7) You'll save a LOT of money by building your own, even after buying the Fast Tracks jigs & fixtures (which you can sell for a good portion of their cost to you when you decide you don't need them any more) and (8) Your friends and acquaintances will think you're amazing because you make your own turnouts. The only drawback I know of is it takes between an hour or two hours to build 'em.

    However, contrary to popular belief, Atlas 55 turnouts ARE available, you just have to expend some time and creativity to find them. They come in three angles, #5, #7 and #10 plus a few sizes of curved turnouts as well as crossovers. Atlas 55 flex will interfere with engines and cars with "pizza cutter" flanges, whereas Micro Engineering code 55 track won't.

    As is always my advice, if you're not interested in making your own turnouts, the best combination is to use Atlas 55 turnouts with Micro Engineering flex track...along with ME's #6 turnouts where applicable.

    However, that advice is only valid if you truly ARE wanting more prototypical looking track. If you're okay with out-of-proportion ties (too short, too wide, too tall, too far apart) and unprototypical looking spikehead details, then Peco 55 (fake 55 as it's really code 80 with .030" buried in the tie plastic) is fairly reliable (the turnouts are notoriously out of gauge) and is always readily available.

    There are a lot of threads here about what track to use, with fan boys on all sides, usually with the Kato Unitrack bunch and the code 55 crowd butting heads with the code 80 and Peco 55 crowd butting heads with the code 55 bunch too. Then, there are the hand-layers who, like me, will tell you all the great things about making your own turnouts. It's all up to you and what's important to you.

    Good luck! I'm sure you're going to get a lot of advice about what to build for your allotted space. If you get questions and suggestions by a poster named David K. Smith, listen to him. He knows exactly what he's talking about.

    Cheerio!
    Bob Gilmore
     
  6. garyr

    garyr New Member

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    Hi,

    I hadn't thought about making my own turnouts - perhaps a confidence thing, nor was I aware that Peco turnouts had issues (hadn't seen that reported in my searches for info). I'm not so much about having a prototypical look of the track, as having a layout that does not look like an oval. Unitrack looks OK when ballasted, it's just that I can't come up with a layout that looks other than like it came from a toy shop. I had thought that Peco was as reliable as Unitrack, but perhaps not so...

    cheers
    gary
     
  7. PaulBeinert

    PaulBeinert TrainBoard Supporter

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    My entire layout is Peco and i have had zero issues with the Peco turnouts (about 30 of them so far)
     
  8. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Don't junk the Unitrack you don't use! You can get a good price for it on eBay, if it's in good shape. Batching it (like 4 curves of the same kind for instance) helps sell it.
     
  9. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    It sounds like you may have space for an HCD. I've always been a big advocate of them because they are quick and simple to build, and provide just enough space for a decent plan. Now, given this space limitation, you're not going to have room for a lot of free-flowing trackwork anyway, so Unitrack is not such an awful option, IMO. I did this plan for someone else looking for a Unitrack-based HCD:

    [​IMG]

    I'm not sure how it works with your track inventory, but it might be a starting point for further exploration.
     
  10. garyr

    garyr New Member

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    Thanks David, that looks like a nice plan. What would you suggest for industries - I'd sort of like a rationale for the railway so I can play at picking up and delivering :)

    I've sort of come to the conclusion that what people say about having reason for the railway creates much more interest than just having a railway that looks nice. Do you think I'm on the right track (no pun intended) in thinking that way. I am quite happy to be guided by more experienced folk.
    cheers
    Gary
     
  11. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's really up to you. Start with the railroad you wish to portray, and dig around a little to see what the railroad did. If it's a freelanced line, then choose a prototype that it emulates. Alternatively, perhaps there are some railroad-served industries in your area, or that you've seen over the years. There's a wide latitude of options; really, the only thing you need to be mindful of is impossible combinations, such as a coal mine in the middle of a city, or a fish cannery in the mountains. Plausibility is simply a matter of being logical.

    Absolutely. More modelers should think this way.
     

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